Tuesday, 29 August 2017

weiße haus

I’ve passed this villa in the Hessian capital numerous times and it always caused me to do a bit of a double-take but never realised until recently that the similarity to the US presidential mansion was intentional.
In 1903, sparkling white wine (Sekt) magnate Friedrich Wilhelm Söhnlein commissioned a Zürich architectural group to build a residence for him and his new wife and re-import Emma Pabst, heiress to the American brewing dynasty, specifically in the style of the White House. The design (an homage to Irish architect Jame Hoban) was also part of the motivation for the US military authorities to commandeer the compound from 1945 until 1990 and utilise it as a local head-quarters—just removed from the Kurpark by a few hundred metres. When the villa was returned to the state, it was considered for a time as a new home for the state government or alternately listing the property as a consulate—even though many countries were represented in nearby Frankfurt. Presently the building is in private hands but can be rented for special events.